|Publication number||US6863545 B2|
|Application number||US 10/337,546|
|Publication date||Mar 8, 2005|
|Filing date||Jan 7, 2003|
|Priority date||Jan 7, 2002|
|Also published as||CN1613168A, CN1613168B, DE60301323D1, DE60301323T2, EP1461846A1, EP1461846B1, US20030129864, WO2003058765A1, WO2003058765B1|
|Publication number||10337546, 337546, US 6863545 B2, US 6863545B2, US-B2-6863545, US6863545 B2, US6863545B2|
|Inventors||Kirk B. Peloza|
|Original Assignee||Molex Incorporated|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (13), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (20), Classifications (10), Legal Events (4)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
This application claims the benefit of Provisional Application No. 60/346,570, filed Jan. 7, 2002.
The present invention relates generally to electronic connectors and more particularly to electronic connectors used in automotive applications that have improved retention capabilities.
Input-output (“I/O”) connectors have been used for years in the consumer electronic industry for providing connections, for example, between computers and peripheral devices, such as CD and DVD players, scanners, printers and the like. These connector applications may include either parallel connections that utilize a plurality of conductive pins which are received within press-fit terminals or universal serial bus (“USB”) connections that utilize flat terminals with contacts that slidingly engage each other. This sliding engagement is acceptable in home and business computer applications where the connections are typically located at the rear of the computer and peripheral, out of the way of the user.
Recently, there has been a tremendous increase in the incorporation of electronic entertainment and computer systems in automotive applications. Vehicles are being provided with videotape and DVD players, MP3 music systems, and personal entertainment, such as those manufactured by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. The automotive industry, as well as other transport industries, such as the aircraft industry have indicated that they shall be equipping their vehicles and aircraft with other types of electronic devices, such as computers, facsimile machines, etc.
In many of these applications, the automobile or aircraft will have an electronics center that will include various circuit boards that support the player, device or game system. One or more connectors will be mounted to the circuit board to offer a socket or receptacle into which a user or passenger can insert a plug connector in order to connect an enabling device to the player, system etc. The passengers will insert and remove these plug connectors on a repeated basis, and often more than 2 to 4 times for each vehicle trip. The trips done by a vehicle are many so that the insertion and removal cycles of the plug connector will add up over the days, weeks and months in which the vehicle is in use.
These insertion and removal cycle will impose a great deal of stress on the socket/receptacles and their means of attachment to their associated circuit boards. The present invention is therefore directed to an improved connector assembly for vehicular applications that is robust and capable of enduring repeated insertion and withdrawal cycles.
It is therefore a general object of the present invention to provide an improved connector assembly for automotive and aircraft applications with improved retention capabilities that retain the socket or receptacle in place firmly upon an associated circuit board and which has a structure that more effectively secures the connector to the circuit board while resisting stresses imposed thereupon during insertion and withdrawal.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a connector system for vehicular applications including a circuit board, a connector attached to the circuit board and a shroud member that encloses the connector and maintains the connector in its desired position on the circuit board.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide a robust I/O connector assembly for automotive applications in which the connector assembly is subject to repeated insertion and removal cycles, and wherein the connector assembly includes a female socket-style connector that receives a plug connector therein, the connector assembly further including a protective shroud that is attached to the circuit board and which at least partially encloses the female connector, the shroud having a press arm that engages an exterior surface of the female connector, and exerting a retention force thereupon to maintain the shroud in a position on the circuit board.
Another object of the present invention is to provide a shielded housing for a high-speed electrical connector, the housing having the form of a hollow shroud with an insulative body portion that is divided into two sections, one that houses a socket connector and the other that receives an opposing plug connector, the housing body portion further including a wall portion that divides the housing body portion and which provides a means for attaching the housing to a wall or mounting bulkhead of a vehicle, the housing portion of the shroud including a hollow cavity with two retention members extending into the cavity and engaging portions of the socket connector, the housing portion further including a press member formed in an exterior wall of the housing, the press member being oriented on the housing portion to exert a force on the socket connector that opposes forces applied to the socket connector by the inner retention members.
Still another object of the present invention is to provide the aforementioned shroud with a shield component, the shield component including the plating of the exterior surfaces of the shroud with a conductive metal, such that the shroud encompasses the connector from the circuit board up to and through a bulkhead or other support to which the shroud penetrates, the exterior plated surface of the shroud providing a measure of electromagnetic interference (“EMI”) protection.
Yet another object of the present invention is to provide a conductive enclosure for a connector mounted to a circuit board, the enclosure taking the form of a shroud having an enclosure portion that receives one connector therein and a receptacle portion for receiving a second connector therein that is mateable with the one connector, the enclosure portion having an internal cavity that is defined by a plurality of walls, two of the walls have retaining members formed thereon that engage the one connector and fix a position of the one connector within the internal cavity, while a third wall of the enclosure portion includes a press member that is biased to exert a force upon the one connector when enclosed in the shroud, the retaining members providing reaction surfaces that at least partially resist the force exerted on the one connector by the press member.
The present invention accomplishes the aforementioned objects by way of its novel and unique structure. Accordingly, in one principal aspect of the present invention, a female-style socket connector is provided for mounting to a circuit board. A larger shroud member is provided and has an internal cavity that receives almost all of the socket connector therein such that the shroud extends around most of the socket connector and the shroud member mates with a surface of the circuit board. The shroud includes a press arm that contacts an exterior surface of the socket connector in order to exert a force upon the socket connector, typically a downward force, that maintains the socket connector in a designated position on the circuit board so that it may be reliably soldered or otherwise attached thereto. This downward force is in opposition to reaction forces exerted on the socket connector by internal retention arms of the shroud member.
In another principal aspect of the present invention, the press arm of the shroud is formed integrally therewith and extends in a cantilevered fashion within a slot formed in an exterior wall of the shroud. Preferably, the press arm extends in a horizontal fashion within a top wall of the shroud and includes a free end that is located intermediate two opposing ends of the socket connector. The socket connector may itself have an outer conductive shield, and thus it is desired that the press arm be plated with a conductive material so that an electrical, or grounding, connection may be established from the shroud to the exterior grounding shell, or shield, of the socket connector.
In still another principal aspect of the present invention, the shroud is provided with one or more retaining tabs formed therewith and disposed within the internal cavity of the shroud. These retaining tabs engage other exterior surfaces of the socket connector and preferably these surfaces will be oriented opposite the exterior surface which the shroud press arm contacts. These retaining tabs serve not only to retain the socket connector in place within the shroud, but also provide additional points of electrical connection between the shroud and the socket connector. The retaining tabs serve to provide reaction surfaces that are oriented opposite the press arm and serve to at least partially resist forces applied to the socket connector by the press arm.
In yet another principal aspect of the present invention, the socket connector includes a series of mounting feet that are received within corresponding mounting holes formed in the circuit board, and the socket connector includes one or more extensions that extend from near the mounting feet and which serve as a means to limit the distance which the shroud may press the socket connector down into contact with the circuit board so as to give the connector system an anti-overstress measure.
These and other objects; features with advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following detailed description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.
In the course of this detailed description, the reference will be frequently made to the attached drawings in which:
The portal 20 will typically be formed in a bulkhead or wall 21 illustrated in phantom that faces into the interior of the vehicle. In the space behind the bulkhead or wall 21, a circuit board 23 is supported and extends to an electronic device (not shown) and further includes on the surface(s) thereof, a plurality of conductive traces 24 that form circuit paths from the device to a connector 25 supported on the circuit board 23 (FIG. 3).
The two shields 29, 30 are spaced apart from each other a predetermined distance to form an annular cavity 32 as shown that preferably receives the outer walls 35 of a correspondingly opposing plug connector 36 (FIG. 1). The two shields 29, 30 preferably include one or more spring arms 38 formed therewith that serve to exert a retention force on the plug connector 36 when it is inserted into the socket connector 25.
The socket connector 25, as shown in
The present invention is directed to an improved connector assembly 50 that in its broadest sense includes the circuit board 23, the connector 25 mounted thereto and a protective shroud 51 that protects and at least partially encloses the connector 25. The shroud 51 serves as a protective housing for the connector 25 and it has been noted by applicant that it is difficult to manufacture a housing for a small connector such as that of the USB or 1394a and 1394b varieties that is fastened and must be supported a specific distance from the circuit board 23 because manufacturing tolerances are very tight. Connectors 25 such as of the style shown have dimensions of about 0.375 by 0.5 by 0.28 inches, for example. With such small dimensions, it is desired to protect the connector, yet hold it in place on the circuit board. Furthermore, in such a small dimensional environment, the connection areas of the socket connector to the circuit board are also very small and are susceptible to high stresses that are caused by the insertion and removal of a plug connector.
As shown in
In an important aspect of the present invention, the shroud 51 includes a spring arm 90 that is preferably formed integral with the shroud 51. As best seen in
The top of the press member 96 contacts the exterior surface of the outer shield 90 of the connector 25 and in this regard, it is desired to cast, or plate some or all of the exterior surfaces of the shroud 51 with a conductive material. This can be easily done by molding the shroud from a material, such as plastic, and then plating it. With the plating, an electrical connection between the circuit board 23 and the shroud 51 can be established with the point of connection occurring in or along the mounting flange 66. An electrical connection is also established between the shroud 51 and the connector at the tip of the press member 96 and if desired, at the ends of the retaining catches 71.
In operation, the cantilevered spring arm 90 pushes the connector 25 into contact with and positions on the circuit board 23, so that the connector 25 especially the terminal tails 40 thereof, may be soldered in a re-flow type of soldering operation. The shroud 51 serves as a means to protect the covered connector 25 from loads incurred in cycles of insertion and removal of the plug connector 36 as well as vibrations that might be transmitted through the connecting cable 19 and plug connector 36 by the user.
The intermediate mounting wall 55 permits the shroud 51 and the circuit board 23 to be supported on a bulkhead or mounting wall 21. The shroud rear face 53 preferably does not extend down to the surface of the circuit board 23 and may include a recessed portion 98 (FIG. 6). That permits entrance to the terminal tail area during the reflow solder process.
In order to prevent the connector terminal tails 40 from being overstressed or bent, the outer shield 30 of the connector 25 may be provided with over-travel feet 99 (
Although the present invention has been described in terms of an insulative body with a conductive coating, it will be understood that other structures may be suitable. For example, conductive surfaces of the shroud may be formed with inserts, or the shroud may be die cast from a conductive material. The shroud not only substantially encloses the socket connector (on at least three sides thereof), but it also provides a means of holding the socket connector in place within the shroud and attached to the circuit board in a manner that relieves insertion and removal stress from being transferred to the solder connections between the socket connector and the circuit board.
While the preferred embodiment of the invention have been shown and described, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that changes and modifications may be made therein without departing from the spirit of the invention, the scope of which is defined by the appended claims.
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|U.S. Classification||439/79, 439/931, 439/701|
|International Classification||H01R13/648, H01R12/71, H01R13/516|
|Cooperative Classification||Y10S439/931, H01R12/7005, H01R13/516|
|Jan 7, 2003||AS||Assignment|
|Sep 8, 2008||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 4
|Sep 15, 2008||REMI||Maintenance fee reminder mailed|
|Sep 10, 2012||FPAY||Fee payment|
Year of fee payment: 8